By Mark Rountree Commentary

It's time for my latest "things sure ain't what they used to be'' column.

Saturday morning, a television cable outfit broadcast a football game. It wasn't a pro game. It wasn't a college game. It wasn't even a high school game. It was a game for 6-year olds.

The players were decked out in NFL-looking uniforms with their names on the back, playing on artificial turf in a game officiated by real live referees and broadcast live to much of the state on cable TV.

When I was 6 years old, having a TV was a big deal, let alone playing a game that was televised on one.

And we sure didn't have NFL-style uniforms, head-to-toe equipment and turf shoes. Heck, we didn't even have uniforms and equipment. Your uniform was a sweatshirt, and your equipment was another sweatshirt you rolled up for shoulder pads. Our turf shoes were the always-dependable, high-top PF Flyers.

What's more, we didn't even have an official team. The only teams we had at that age were assembled based on who showed up each Saturday afternoon for a wear-you-out session of tackle football at the local park.

Artificial turf? Are you kidding me? It wasn't even invented yet. Our playing surface was part dead grass, part dirt and mostly cinders, rocks and stickers.

And somehow, even without stylish uniforms and fancy playing fields, we managed to have a blast.

If Saturday's tiny-tots game was any indication, times sure have changed. But that's progress. I guess.

Rountree is the sports editor of the News -- Eagle.

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